“The zoo is closing,” he said.
“But where will we go?” the penguins asked.
“You don’t have to go home,” he said. “But you can’t stay here.”
The More Things Change
“…and so, over time, as animals that dealt better with confinement and artificial conditions passed on both their behaviors and their genes to their offspring, eventually things reached a point where the animals we bred in captivity were of an entirely different species than their cousins in the wild, back when any still lived,” the zookeeper explained to the school children. “At that point there was a serious debate about the purpose and nature of zoos. Before conservation efforts had included the re-introduction of animals back into their native habitats as a major goal. Now, our enclosures are full of animals whose native habitats are the enclosures. Releasing them into the wild would be as pointless and cruel as ‘re-introducing’ one of the old polar bears to the Amazon Desert.” The zookeeper noticed a child raising a hand at the back of the group. “Yes, do you have a question?”
“Yes. I don’t believe in evolution,” a child said.
“But we’ve seen it in action,” the zookeeper said. “We have records, we have proof.”
“The Bible says that it’s always been this way.”
“Even if it did, we still have a complete timeline of the speciation of…”
“If your ‘timeline’ says one thing and the word of God says another, then your timeline is wrong,” the child said.
“What do you think the Bible says about zoos?” the zookeeper asked.
“It says in Genesis that God created man to have dominion over the animals,” the child said.
“That could mean any number of things,” the zookeeper said. “Back before the age of zoos when animals were still wild, people believed…”
“If you read the Bible literally, there’s only one meaning… and there’s no mention of any ‘wild animals’ in Genesis,” the child said. “All the animals were with Adam and Eve in the garden. All of them were with Noah on the ark. We’re all descended from Noah, and our animals are all descended from his. It’s a clear description of an unbroken chain of stewardship, from the first days of creation until now.”
“I’m pretty sure there are a few mentions of wild animals in the Bible,” the zookeeper said. “In Leviticus, God threatens to send…”
“Now you’re going and putting your own liberal interpretation on things,” the child said. “You have to really study the Bible to understand what that passage means.”
“What does it mean?”
“You’d have to ask my pastor,” the child said. “But Genesis makes it clear that there are no wild animals, so a literal interpretation of any other passage can’t say otherwise.”
“I’m not sure we’d agree on what ‘literal’ means,” the zookeeper said.
“If you disagree with God’s unchanging word…”
“I’m not disagreeing with the Bible, I’m disagreeing with you,” the zookeeper said. “Now, unless you actually have a question, I think we’re going to be moving along to the dolphin embassy.”
“I’ll pray for you,” the child said.